Redemption Songs

Is it my body
I inhabit, or do I only haunt
a country whose maps have grown
unreadable?
Luisa A. Igloria, “On Suffering

This body, a box of paints with a broken brush,
a violin with a bow
of exploded horsehair.
But the maker of mosaics knows the value
of shattered glass. The collage artist
pieces the picture together out of fragments.

My body, a swamp to shelter
runaway slaves, a garden run wild.
Some months, the land
produces enough to keep us fed.
Other months, the crops wither
from harshness.
The soil resurrects
itself by consuming every dead
creature back to basic elements
and recycling all our dreams.

We are cameras with vast
digital files and no efficient way of archiving
them. Some days, we can find what we need
in this filing cabinet of doom; some years, we search
with increasing desperation for the lost
material. The best afternoons develop
when we take unplanned rambles
through the weedy, winding paths
so far from home.

Once, I was an athlete, running
long distances in the pre-dawn haze
of summer. Now I set the kettle
on to boil as I plot
the day ahead. Once I breakfasted
on the freshest fruit. Now I bake
muffins, close cousins to cupcakes.
I adorn each one with a quilt
of my homemade lemon curd
and the preserved and sugared rinds
of citrus from the trees that stoop
with gifts for those with eyes to see.

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Kristin Berkey-Abbott has published two chapbooks: Whistling Past the Graveyard (Pudding House Publications) and I Stand Here Shredding Documents (Finishing Line Press). She oversees the department of General Education at the Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale and she teaches as an adjunct at both Broward College and City College. She writes regularly about books, creativity, poetry, and modern life at her creativity blog, and she explores a variety of spiritual issues at her theology blog. Her website gives more information about her writing and her academic career.

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